Tuesday, September 1, 2015

title pic How To Tell the Difference Between Silk Dupioni & Shantung

Posted by Edelweiss Patterns on November 23, 2011

If you have ever wondered, “What is the difference between silk shantung and silk dupioni?”, this article is for you!  If the question has never crossed your mind before, I highly recommend taking a few minutes to learn the differences between dupioni and shantung, two of the most magnificent fabrics on the market.  

For ages, silk fabrics have been accepted as the creme’ de la creme’ of fashion fabric.  Whether it was for Elizabethan gowns, Regency frocks, Civil War ballgowns, Edwardian wedding dresses, 1930s evening wear, or 1950s party gowns, silk in its various forms has been indespensible.  In Europe and the Far East silk has long been esteemed as the finest fabric for royalty to wear, and in America our First Ladies rarely appear on camera without it.  Today, two of the most popular and elegant silks are silk dupioni and silk shantung.  Those luxurious, textured fabrics with the crisp feel and brilliant lustre are often seen in formal gowns, party suits, wedding attire, and the occasional heirloom christening gown. 


Silk dupioni's luxurious sheen is wonderful for formal outfits.

But there is often a level of confusion as to what exactly differentiates between a dupioni and a shantung, as they have so many similiar characteristics and can be used for most of the same purposes.  In fact, even silk fabric vendors will sometimes neglect to properly categorize their fabric labels, leaving customers confused as to which is really which.  But since I spent years working in one of America’s largest bridal fabric stores, I got to experience and handle on an every day basis the feel, body, and appearance of these two magnificent materials, which I hope can be a help to those who are curious as to their differences. 

Besides the obvious difference of origin (“dupioni” being Italian and “shantung” being Chinese), there is only one clue as to which category a silk falls into:

Silk Dupioni has much more prominent slubs (those crosswise irregularities in texture) and is the thicker of the two materials, almost comparing to the feel of a light or medium weight taffeta.  Dupioni has an almost rustic look to it in weave only, but the incredible sheen and vibrant colors that silk dupioni is known for can render it suitable for prom dresses, bridal gowns (when paired with an appropriate lace), dazzling women’s suits, and even baby outfits. 

So what will dupioni not work for?  Of course that is a question which ultimately the seamstress will need to determine, but any pattern that requires a drapey fabric or a very smooth sort of “satiny” material will not work well with silk dupioni.  Dupioni is generally cut with the slubs stretching horizontally across the garment, which is exactly how it should automatically turn out if you use your pattern layout instructions as directed.  However, I have known several women who were concerned about these lines adding visual width to their outfits, and therefore decided to re-determine the yardage layouts to accomodate the slubs going lengthwise for a more slenderizing look.


Silk Shantung has hardly any slubs, and those that it does have will be much smaller in thread width than a silk dupioni.  In addition, while the silk shantung will still have a fair amount of body and that lovely crispness, it will usually be much thinner than the dupioni and will therefore be suitable to more delicate garments.  Silk shantung can almost appear flowing, and is the perfect “happy-medium” between a drapey silk charmeuse and a stiff silk dupioni or taffeta.  Besides the popular uses of silk in home decorating and quilting projects, silk shantung is terrific for evening wear, flower girls’ dresses, bridal gowns or sashes, fabric flowers, First Ladies’ gowns, or any special occasion that calls for an exquisite outfit.  Historically, this fabric is very similar to a silk used in the Regency era (1795 – 1820) for ball gowns, whereas a true dupioni is completely inaccurate for the time period. 


Unless you can go to a fabric store nearby and spend a few minutes feeling the difference between these two fabrics, you may not notice a difference right away.  But with some practice you will soon learn to differentiate between the two, and will enjoy the benefit of determining exactly which material will work best for your next project. 

Happy sewing!


title pic An Edwardian Tea Gown

Posted by Edelweiss Patterns on November 18, 2011

After years of admiring the 1910s Tea Gown pattern from Sense & Sensibility Patterns,  I have finally found the time to create my own version of this lovely Edwardian dress!  With the empire waistline, detailed bodice, layered skirt, and ruched sash, the tea gown pattern evokes a sense of femininity from the early 1900s.  You could almost imagine this dress in the “Anne of Avonlea” movie – and while that production was set in 1902, Mrs. Pringle wore a similarly styled gown as her first costume in the film. 

Pattern cover is copyright Sense & Sensibility Patterns

For this dress I chose a lovely iridescent silk shantung which was left over from a wedding dress project, along with a delicate embroidered tulle for the overlay.  Of all the types of lacy fabrics I’ve worked with, embroidered tulles are by far my favorite material, even more than French laces or embroidered organzas.  There’s just something so dainty and elegant about trailing roses embroidered over English netting or tulle, especially when finished with a scalloped edge. 

I modified the bodice pattern slightly by hand sewing curved pieces of this tulle as an overlay for part of the bodice front.  The pieces were carefully cut to use the scalloped edge as a decorative detail at the top of the overlay pieces, which end at the above bust measurement. 

One of my favorite elements of the tea gown pattern is the inset panel which is often a contrasting color.  But I have always thought it begged to be overlaid with lacy trimming, and that’s exactly what I did for my rendition of this gown! 

I took 2″ wide lace and treated it as you would if you were making heirloom “puffing” (gather it on the top and bottom of the lace or fabric strip about 1/2″ away from the edge, and pull up the threads until the gathers are evenly distributed.)  Then I applied the rows of puffed lace to the bodice inset, overlapping the top of the row underneath over the bottom of the row above.  Once the panel was completely covered with lace puffing, I stitched a tiny ivory ribbon right over the center of the gathering threads. 

Embroidered lace motifs are the perfect addition to the kimono sleeves.

For the kimono sleeves, I wanted something that would be a bit daintier than an undecorated sleeve – something still simple in style like the original pattern piece but embellished for an even more feminine look.  Thankfully I have amassed quite a stash of lace appliques, so I pulled out some teardrop shaped lace pieces which remind me very much of a Sew Beautiful magazine project.

The fabric was cut away underneath the lace appliques for a lovely heirloom finish.

After some careful hand sewing, I was able to accomplish a modified version of lace insertion, cutting away the fabric underneath to make the lace like a “window” that you can see through.  I will hopefully be posting a tutorial shortly on how to do lace insertion with an oddly-shaped lace piece such as this one.  Finally, I  trimmed a good three inches off the sleeve length and finished the edges with matching scalloped lace edging.

I haven’t quite finished the gown yet, but it is coming along nicely and I can’t wait to post more pictures once it’s completed.

Happy sewing!


sound of music costumes logo

title pic Liesl’s Dress Customer Pictures & Pattern Review

Posted by Edelweiss Patterns on November 10, 2011

Liesl’s Dancing Dress Pattern Review    



Joanna has done a lovely job with the Liesl dress pattern!


Hello, Ladies!  Here are some gorgeous “Liesl dress” pictures which Joanna of “Jo-With-Its-Portfolio” just sent in.  She purchased our “Liesl’s Dancing Dress” pattern to make this costume for her seventeenth birthday, and it turned out beautifully!   



Joanna did a lovely lettuce hem edge just like the pattern suggests.


 Joanna writes, “Dear Katrina,
Hello!  I made my Liesl dress back in June for my 17th birthday party.  I’ve finally gotten outside and taken some decent pictures of it, so I thought I would send them your way.  Thanks so much for the lovely pattern!  I’m very happy with my dress.

You can read her full pattern review of the “Liesl’s Dancing Dress” pattern here.  She also describes how the entire birthday party danced “The Laendler” from The Sound of Music, and jumped from bench to bench just like Liesl did! 






Chiffon is the ideal fabric to achieve those billowy sleeves.


sound of music gazebo at hellbrunn palaceMany thanks to Joanna for sending in these photos!  If you would like to be featured on the Edelweiss Patterns blog page, feel  free to send in photos of a dress you have made from one of our patterns

Happy sewing!